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Need info on this vintage (40s?) bass clarinet please


I signed up here to see if someone could help with information pertaining to this bass clarinet. I've also posted this message on another forum.

This belonged to my grandfather who played with the NBC orchestra under Toscanini (this was one of his main clarinets that was used for broadway plays).

I've had this for a number of years sitting in my closet and was hoping someone here might be able to give me an idea as to its value, history, significance, desirability amongst musicians, etc.

Thanks very much in advance for your input and advice.


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It appears that Mollenhauer is still in business, although it looks like they only make recorders now. There is some interesting history on this page, but it doesn't really talk about individual instruments. You might try contacting them via email.
I don't think this horn has enough keys to be a "true" Oehler system clarinet, but it does have more keys than a "true" Albert system clarinet. Albert and Oehler have different keywork than the standard Boehm-Klose system that's on most clarinets, especially those in the US. All three use similar fingering systems, but they're not identical. Oehler is an improved version of the Albert system with more keywork. All three of these keywork systems can be found on new horns, but Albert is mostly outdated. Oehler is mainly made in just Germany. Additionally, some German clarinets, particularly low instruments like the bass, require you to use a different mouthpiece than you would on a Boehm or Albert horn.

I'm only going to touch on one thing regarding value, as other folks here have more experience looking into the value of vintage clarinets than I do: it doesn't matter who you say owned the horn unless you can document it. Even then, unless your grandfather was really famous, that won't add anything to the horn's value. If you're talking a ballpark value of a replacement horn for insurance purposes, your horn was a professional model. Contact your insurance folks to see if they would replace the horn with a modern professional horn if yours was damaged beyond repair or stolen.

I do think the horn is pre-1941. I don't know by how much, though. Possibly even 1939 or earlier. I don't know how much trading was done with Germany pre-1941. The NBC Orchestra was founded in 1937. That doesn't necessarily mean that your grandfather bought it just for the occasion of joining said orchestra.

If you are planning on selling the horn, don't bother getting it restored. The buyer would want to do it his way. However, I would recommend taking it to a woodwind repair shop to determine if there's anything that needs to be adjusted and/or if there's major damage that needs to be repaired.

Kinda cool that you have two necks with it.
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